By Alicia Constant
Patrick Henry College
Reich gives her testimony at the TeenPact National Convention in May. Photo courtesy of TeenPact.
Betsy Reich felt an extraordinary peace as she walked up to the podium. She was about to tell a thousand people at TeenPact’s National Convention about God’s faithfulness during the death of her mom, the hardest year of her life.
“Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass,” she quoted. “It's about learning to dance in the rain.”
Reich’s testimony at the National Convention was the culmination of her six-month internship with TeenPact Leadership Schools, an organization that equips young leaders to influence politics and culture for Christ.
In September 2012, Reich’s mother, Maggie, died after a two-year fight with terminal breast cancer. Reich had placed school on hold to be with her family at the end of her sophomore year at Patrick Henry College, entering both a rich season of family time and a period of incredible grief.
During her time at home, Reich’s mom asked her, “What is the worst thing that can happen?”
“That you die?” Reich replied. It didn’t sound right.
“No, honey,” she said, “the worst thing that could happen would be me not walking this out faithfully.”
Reich spoke about her mom’s faithful witness in trial—and the faithfulness of an unchanging God.
For the next three days of the conference, “people were grabbing me and talking to me, sharing their story, saying how God met them through what I had said,” Reich said. “I was blown away because I didn’t think I had anything new or special to say… and I was like, ‘I don’t understand, it was only 10 minutes…. Praise God, that was totally You.’”
Reich’s internship at TeenPact gave her the ability to see God radically transform young people. At the same time, God used her time at TeenPact to bring “healing for the soul.”
“It was a time that I needed,” she said.
Reich has been involved in TeenPact since 2003, when she attended a state civics class in Washington at 12 years old. Since then, she has attended a number of events and volunteered in different leadership roles. Interning at the TeenPact National Office—with coworkers who had become “like family”—was her dream job.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to have the opportunity to empower a ministry where I see God working so powerfully and changing young people’s lives,” she said.
While TeenPact focuses primarily on teaching young people about civic involvement, Reich said the program offers so much more: “People come away changed not because they learned about state government, but because they saw people living out the gospel.”
|Betsy Reich (R) and her boss, Communications Director Lydia Shanks. Photo courtesy Betsy Reich.
During her six months at the TeenPact National Office in Richmond, Va., Reich worked behind the scenes to help events happen. She directed registration processing, designed welcome packets, wrote brochures and newsletters, and helped draft a vision for a blog and other online communication tools.
The National Convention, which took place in Tennessee May 20-26, was “a series of miracles.” During the week-long conference, Reich and her fellow volunteers started working at 6 a.m. and collapsed in bed at 1 a.m. Reich, a journalism major, pulled together a team of 15 students to help her summarize and live-blog speakers and activities. She live-tweeted sessions and often had only an hour to write up her articles.
In addition to over 750 students in the audience, hundreds more tuned in via webcast and followed Reich’s updates.
“Basically we were capturing National Convention for the students who had been there, and giving students and families who weren’t able to make it the opportunity to benefit,” she said.
After her 10-minute testimony, she was inundated with stories of God working in people's lives.
One mother who had been heavily involved in TeenPact in North Carolina had just been diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live.
“It was on everyone’s mind,” Reich said. She was able to minister to one of the woman’s hurting friends. “God brought a lot of healing to his heart, to where he was able to say, ‘It’s ok if I don’t understand, I can still trust God without understanding.’”
A couple weeks later, the North Carolina woman came back from getting tested. Her doctor declared her completely cancer-free, saying, “I can’t even prove to you that you ever had cancer in the first place.”
“God met those students where they were at and helped them to let go and trust without understanding, and they got to see the power of healing in the way they were praying for,” Reich said. “You don’t always get that experience. My experience was that I trusted God and I still lost my mom, and that’s ok.”
“It's not my script, it's not my story. I trust in the love of the storywriter,” she said.
Betsy Reich (far right) and her fellow TeenPact staffers. Photo courtesy Betsy Reich.